by Marcus Estrada
Double Fine’s Kickstarter campaign for Massive Chalice was a great hit. With a surprisingly sparse funding page (by today’s standards) they managed to raise 169% of their goal. Sure, it was no $3.3 million as per Double Fine Adventure, but most crowdfunding teams can only dream of raising $1.2 million. In any case, a little over a year since the Kickstarter the game has landed on Steam Early Access. As you can read in our review, it isn’t perfect just yet but there is one thing that Massive Chalice already has gotten just right: the art style.
Strategy games are a dime a dozen. Whether tun-based, real-time, hex grid or free roaming, they all tend to have a standard sort of look. Realistic ones in particular often seem visually similar. The more sci-fi you get the cooler designs can be, such as with the recent XCOM remake. Still, fancy realistic graphics alone are increasingly common in the gaming space as developers become more accustomed to “current gen” consoles. Massive Chalice doesn’t inherently look like something made to utilize the full potential of an Xbox One or PS4, but it still looks darn good.
This is possible because of the incredible art design which holds it up. If you look at any Massive Chalice screenshot you can immediately tell it apart from anything else. The world map has autumnal color themes, but these subdued themes are carried throughout. Of course the color is only part of its unique artistic flair. There’s also the heavy focus on everything being polygonal – rather than attempting to hide polygons away as most modern games do.
It’s very easy for art with obvious polygons to go wrong. Simply look some of the library on Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1. Games without any powerful artistic consideration simply look monstrous. Massive Chalice, while certainly more modern-looking than those, still has that crisp polygon look which is coming back in style. Landscapes, characters, and buildings are all stylishly rendered and this helps make it a very graphically distinct experience.
Overlaid on landscapes are some lovely patterns as well. Instead of looking like simple repeated titles, grassy plains look amazing with smaller colored squares dotting the path. There may very well be repetition between areas, but it’s really hard to tell with how well the patterns are spread. Little touches like this seem at first at odds with the polygonal design, but somehow it all blends together in the end.
Some might feel that this art style is a little lazy but it feels very purposeful. It also doesn’t seem to be something that they’ll upgrade much during the Early Access period. If they do, I’ll honestly be disappointed. There are no other strategy games out there that look like Massive Chalice. Heck, there’s not really games from any genre out there with a similar visual vibe. Sure, graphics don’t make the game but they can certainly help you overlook issues. And when you’re someone like me who adores games which try something different, well, I can’t help having a soft spot for Massive Chalice because of its artstyle.
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ] Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]